Priority areas in research into encephalitis

We know that prompt diagnosis and treatment in all types of encephalitis is critically important, both in saving lives and limiting brain injury, as is rehabilitation for those suffering sequelae which is an area with limited evidence. We are also aware that facilities for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation vary greatly depending on location.

The current questions the Society is aiming to support, encourage, participate in and fund over the next three years are:


    Increasingly we recognise the additional challenges of emerging infections, with specific geographical variation. Therefore, we are keen to support research which makes diagnosis quicker and more specific, particularly with relevance to these emerging and future challenges, and to disseminate new knowledge effectively. We are also be interested in research that explores correlations between
    delays in diagnosis, treatment and outcome/levels of disability.


    Treatments are often limited in infectious aetiologies of encephalitis and we know from experience with COVID-19 that sometimes widely available treatments (for example dexamethasone), can be very effective in reducing symptoms, although we know little about the longer term benefits. We are interested in supporting research that explores the use of repurposing existing medications or
    the identification of targets for novel immunomodulatory agents in both infectious and autoimmune causes of encephalitis, along with their effects, not only during the acute stages but thereafter during rehabilitation. These aims will require the establishment of fuller registries and clinical trial platforms/networks in encephalitis to support specific studies and trials in the future.


    There is currently very little good quality research on outcomes from encephalitis. Research into the recovery and rehabilitation of patients who have had encephalitis has been limited. We know little about patient recovery pathways, which forms of rehabilitation are more effective, what rehabilitation services are being offered to patients following encephalitis, what are the most effective
    interventions in maximising people’s clinical outcomes and quality of life and when should rehabilitation begin. In addition to cognitive and physical outcomes, research that explores behavioural, mental health and social outcomes are much needed. This should include-patient derived input to inform outcome metrics.

    Please see the full  Encephalitis Society Research Strategy (2023-2026) for more information.